April 26, 2006
By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino opened an all-day summit Tuesday attended by Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez and 12 other mayors aimed at coordinating their efforts on curbing crime committed with illegal guns.
The mayors - from cities including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee and Seattle - gathered at the official mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion, to exchange ideas, consult experts and develop law enforcement cooperation among their cities.
In their opening remarks, Bloomberg and Menino criticized the federal government for impeding local efforts to control illegal guns.
"If the leadership won't come from Congress or from the White House, it will have to come from us," Bloomberg said.
Menino told the story of meeting recently with a sixth-grade class in Boston in which nine out of 10 pupils said they knew where they could find a gun. The 73 homicides in Boston last year, Menino said, marked the highest number in 10 years. He said many of the guns used in those killings came from other states.
"Gun crime is a national problem that needs a national response," Menino said. "One of the biggest problems is how we as mayors can work together."
Perez said he was looking forward to developing joint strategies with other mayors. Last year, about 350 illegal guns were taken off Hartford streets as a direct result of the city's neighborhood policing plan, he said.
"This is a positive and important step," Perez said in a statement issued by his office in Hartford. "Mayors from different cities and different backgrounds are coming together for a common cause: to be advocates for national and state gun policies.
"This kind of strategic planning will help prevent the illegal guns that kill 80 people each day nationwide from coming to the streets of Hartford."
Bloomberg has zeroed in on gun control as a priority for his second term. He recently testified before Congress with harsh words against a bill that would prevent authorities from being able to share gun trace data with local governments. Some municipalities had used the information to launch lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers.
The mayors' summit hopes to create a loose coalition that will trade crime-fighting information, work together on city and state legislation and form a louder voice in Washington.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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